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The name describes my demeanour and voice! I love narrowboating and that is why this blog is mainly about the boat and our interaction with it. I have been keeping a log for Sonflower ever since we bought her and moved onto her as our main residence. Some incidents in our boating life have been hilarious, some scary and some down right dangerous. I cannot tell what will come in the future but you can now share them! The crew are an 'ordinary' couple. The Best Mate and I.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Wild Weekend

It has nothing to do with the slow pace of life on the canals.

It has nothing to do with the dream to spend our time just pottering very slowly from town to town exploring the whole inland waterway network.

It has everything to do with realising a dream of driving an open top sports car through open countryside in the sunshine.

This last weekend, my eldest daughter arranged a weekend for her and her sisters and brothers in Maidstone while Fran and Peter went off for a weekend drive in the country in a BMW Z3.

We drove to Maidstone in our lumbering diesel people carrier and arrived at about 11am. Having settled the boys with their sister and discovered that we did fit in the little Z3, we headed south with the roof down toward the Weald of Kent. We didn't do quick. This wasn't a race but the realisation of Peter's dream. The next stop was the beautiful National Trust Nymans Gardens where we had NT carrot and coriander soup and rustic home made bread. The prices are extortionate but we are supporting a good cause! Fran makes better soup as well!

Then we headed along the South Downs to Midhurst, from there to Chichester and a lovely drive beside the sea inlets to Fareham. Here we had tea with friends that we hadn't seen for years. A great time chin wagging about our respective kids to find that their dwarf daughter was representing Great Britain in shot put the Paralympic Games in Beijing. Beat that for a brag!

Thence to Bournmouth and a very poor attempt at finding the PremierInn. A few extra miles on the clock here!

Dinner was with more of our 'old' friends from days gone by in a super gastropub. I don't often wax lyrical about this sort of establishment as they are popping up beside the canal everywhere. Here was a real delight. The ambiance was excellent but minimalistic. There was no musak to distract, no clatter and obtrusive noise in the dining room and we seemed to be eating on our own in a crowded room! The service was excellent but discrete. No interrupting "everything all right Sir?" They knew it was all right. It looked right on the plate, steak and lamb cooked perfectly as requested, pasta al dente, sauces textured but not double creamy. There was no rush. We booked for eight and were a little early. We could have gone to the table straight away but there was also no problem in us having a drink in the bar before the meal, the maitre D making sure the barman knew our table number before we had even ordered.

I cannot fault Twenty on the River. The only thing is that we have to return in the Summer to enjoy the river views and al fresco dining!

We had plenty of time to eat, unhurriedly and had plenty of time to converse and catch up with the passing years. A delightful evening.

Thence to the hotel for champagne, chocolates and adult entertainment- match of the day! In the cup, Chelsea won 3-1 and Arsenal lost 0-4. the end of a perfect day.

After breakfast in the morning we scraped the ice off the car and headed back toward Kent. This time we went north up the beautiful Stour valley to Salisbury. Thence to a pub at Ropely (near Alton) for a drink. Fran was a little cold but the pub was warm. After a full english at the hotel we didn't need lunch so we meandered back through the Surrey lanes to places that we had walked to in our teens. We staged a photo shoot in the woods.

Then meandered back through the Kent/sussex lanes to Edenbridge and Tonbridge. Following the Medway valley back to Maidstone we stopped in Wateringbury at the Crown City Chinese restaurant for their 'eat as much as you like' Sunday menu.

Back to the children and the moment when we had to swap back into the Peugeot 807 and leave the dream behind.

A wild and wonderful sunny and brilliant weekend ended with an uneventful drive back to Banbury and our own beds. Tired but really happy.

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